McCourt Divorce Trial, Day Ten: Dodger Execs Circle The Wagons Around Frank McCourt
Day Ten. The Dodgers are 12.5 games out of the wild card.
The Dodger divorce trial is starting to feel like the Dodgers' season -- the outcome has been decided, but you still have to play the rest of the games.
Susman Godfrey, Frank's firm, has brought up a couple of rookies -- Ryan Kirkpatrick and Matt Berry -- to get some big-league experience questioning witnesses. Meanwhile, Judge Scott Gordon seems to be toggling between restless and bored.
But just when you think it's going to be a total snoozer, a witness shows up to liven the proceedings. Today, that witness was the McCourts' banker, Jeff Ingram.
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Ingram is an imposing guy, with gray hair and a droning voice that hides what seems to be an ample sense of humor. One of Ingram's jobs was to help the McCourts live within their means. In this, he failed again and again. His e-mails on the subject have sort of an Eeyore quality of morose pessimism.
"Could be an interesting summer," he writes in one January email, warning the McCourts that they are likely to run out of cash in six months. "Stock smelling salts in the office. At this rate, I'm going to need them."
"Whoa Nellie," he wrote in another email, in which he detailed a long list of over-the-top expenses:
Redecorating the room next to Frank's with plasma screens and custom tables and Lord knows what else.
Possibly having a renowned artist paint a mural in Frank's office
Buying a new car for Frank
Putting in glass around Frank's office door
"Try not to spend it until we've got it," he warned, signing off, "The Wet Blanket."
In another e-mail, titled "Here we go again," he complained that the McCourts had spent $500,000 on their son's bar mitzvah.
This testimony was supposed to help Frank somehow, but you'd have to be billing by the hour to see the relevance. Gordon cut Ingram's testimony short, and it was just as well. Leave 'em wanting more.
With any luck, today will turn out to have been the last day of testimony. Six witnesses took the stand, most of them either Dodger executives or consultants who helped the McCourts buy the team. (Presumably they will be tried separately.)
For the most part, they testified that Jamie insisted on not having an ownership interest in the team. That's helpful to Frank as far as it goes. It reinforces his argument that she wanted to insulate herself from the risk of owning the team, but there isn't much dispute about that. What's in dispute is whether she wanted to give up her rights to the team upon divorce, and that's not quite so clear.
Corey Busch, a bearded baseball consultant, got off the line of the day when he was asked why he had expressed sympathy and support to Frank regarding the divorce, but not to Jamie.
"When the stories broke, there was discussion of an alleged affair that Mrs. McCourt had with her driver," Busch said, making the trial's first mention of the affair with Jeff Fuller. "I felt particularly sad for Mr. McCourt and his sons."
Jamie's lawyer, Dennis Wasser, tried unsuccessfully to have the remark stricken from the record. Afterward, he called it a "cheap shot."
Jamie's side also accused most of Frank's witnesses of being mercenaries, noting that Frank had paid to fly two of them out from the Bay Area and from Wisconsin.
Judge Peter Lichtman popped his head in during a break, causing the day's greatest intrigue. Lichtman was the mediator in Friday's closed-door session, which by all accounts didn't go very well. When he showed up, unrobed, it set off another round of speculation about a possible deal.
It appears that no new date for fresh talks has been scheduled. After closing arguments on Wednesday, the Susman Godfrey lawyers will be heading off to the firm's retreat in Puerto Vallarta, where they will play golf and beach volleyball and probably try to forget everything they ever learned about marital property agreements.
Full McCourt coverage:
Week 1 Wrap-Up:
Even more McCourt:
L.A. Weekly cover story, Dodger Dog, from August
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